Academic journal article Defense Horizons

Transformation and the Defense Industrial Base: A New Model

Academic journal article Defense Horizons

Transformation and the Defense Industrial Base: A New Model

Article excerpt


American force transformation is about building a new expeditionary model with flexible, modular forces that can be managed on a global basis to protect U.S. interests. Breaking the tyranny of geography on military forces is a key aspect to change.

Transformation represents a shift in the demand side of the defense industrial business to provide for these new capabilities. The Department of Defense (DOD) is seeking system-of-systems management to deliver capabilities to the services and for joint military operations. This represents a shift from the past emphasis upon platforms and a primary focus upon service-specific technologies and programs.

As the demand side of the equation has shifted, so has the supply side. Defense consolidation in the 1990s dealt with scarcity; now the newly emerged mega-primes are asked to play the role of lead systems integrators (LSIs) or system-of-systems managers to deliver capability to DOD for transformed operations.

DOD moved to a different way of doing business before the transformation effort emerged as a core priority. Now that the transformation agenda is dominating the shift in the relationship between industry and government, working through LSI roles in shaping capabilities-based procurement will be especially important.

Additionally, the new LSI and system-of-systems management model is shaping a new approach to allies. The new model can allow industry to shape new capabilities on a transatlantic basis. Rather than the old export-after-production model, the new LSI model, coupled with a transformation emphasis, leads to the shaping of new opportunities for developing capabilities before core series production decisions would be taken.

Transformation Drives Models

The United States is moving from an older model of forces directed by service chiefs to a more flexible model in which systems operate interactively to provide global capabilities for U.S. intervention. The process of building a new model for U.S. forces is being forged with several key building blocks. The synergy among these building blocks is crucial in building a net-enabled force to operate globally. The shift is from platforms serving single-service roles to systems of systems that deliver capabilities in support of joint and combined forces operations worldwide.

Transformation is focusing upon where joint forces and global capability are expected to be 20 years from now and working back to the present. This represents a significant shift in how the Department of Defense (DOD) would like to shape its industrial base.

At the heart of the transformation effort is a key focus upon an ability to fuse data and deliver common operational pictures to the forces. (1) To do so will require a shift in the DOD acquisition approach. One idea is to increase the role for Joint Forces Command and emphasize the role of combatant commanders in acquiring fusion technologies. (2)

Equipment priorities in the transformation approach are not placed on service-specific equipment choices. Rather, they are placed on those capabilities that can emerge from multiservice needs and requirements. In other words, DOD will want industry to deliver equipment and systems that allow for enhanced modularity, global management capabilities, and new approaches and technologies that are most beneficial to the widest range of operations.

Finally, technology that reduces manpower and allows for breakthroughs in life-cycle support costs is favored. Total cost of ownership is a key principle in favor of choosing weapon systems and capabilities. Rather than prioritizing the most advanced platform or subsystems, DOD is looking to the strength of the overall system of combat to provide superiority. Within this calculus, individual parts of the system need to be cost-effective from a life-cycle support perspective.

In short, central to the new transformation approach is a shift in the demand that DOD is placing upon its defense industrial base. …

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